Race 9 - Day 7
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Crew Diary - Race 9 Day 7: Qingdao to Seattle
Late last night my mates on the Olympic Watch worked methodically, off the coast of Japan, through five sail evolutions on a deck lit by warm moonlight. If you haven't heard, our race crew is divided into two watches: the Olympics and the Cascades—named after the two mountain ranges shouldering the Seattle area.
For the most part, we have enjoyed mild weather since leaving Qingdao. We made our way across the Yellow Sea with carefully planned tactical moves in increasingly warm temperatures on calm seas, and in my last post I shared the exhilaration of waking to the gorgeous volcanic peaks which give form to southern Japan.
We have known that heavy weather would find us, and that's how we've prepared for this leg. We packed for one place and for the past week we have been sailing in another, weather-wise. Late last night this bold weather finally arrived, with wind and seas building and rising.
Nikki was with our Olympic Watch last night, helming as we stepped our way through those sail evolutions to optimise our performance as conditions increased in intensity. Nikki is expert at guiding our sail plans. The sails we hoist are suited for the apparent wind angle, points of sail, wind strength, and subtle factors she intuits in the feel of the yacht and the sounds, heel, and other signs she offers us. At a turning point in our watch, a bird lighted on the wheel, and perched there resolutely as Nikki turned it—and the yacht—gently from port to starboard. I don't expect any birds will be making gentle landings on our yacht today!
At the moment, we are enduring strong winds, a steep heel, and sharply tall waves. Sea water sprays across our rail, floods our cockpit, and washes over our deck and portal windows. We have put reefs into our main, decreased our sail area, and adjusted our traveller to optimize our speed for the relentless pounding through wave after wave. On the helm this morning I was reminded of skiing a bumpy downhill course, making slight adjustments to wind angle and speed. Balancing our goal to hold a racing course while carrying as much momentum forward as possible.
Maeva, a videographer on board, may have a similar picture in mind, as she stands across from me slicing onions (a daring move in these waves!) The sun is high and unfiltered by clouds. Its hard light refracted through the onion in a way that reminded me of the light through the waves. “I really like this light, I feel like I am in the mountains, skiing.” I have a suspicion that these are just foothills, and the fluid Alps of the open North Pacific await us down course.
Love and Out. Andy